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September 4, 2012 11:50 pm

Jewish Groups Clash Over Exclusion of Jerusalem from Democratic Platform

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Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2004. Photo: Wiki Commons.

The release of the Democratic Party Platform ahead of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, has drawn criticism from conservatives due to the omission of language on Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, and Hamas that was previously present in the party’s statements on Israel.

President Barack Obama has an “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security,” the platform stated, citing his administration’s allocation of “nearly $10 billion in the past three years” to help maintain the Jewish state’s qualitative military edge. Through diplomatic support, Obama has displayed “steadfast opposition to any attempt to delegitimize Israel on the world stage,” the platform added.

In 2004 and 2008, but not in 2012, the Democratic platform said Jerusalem “is and will remain the capital of Israel” and called for the resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue “by allowing them to settle [in a Palestinian state], rather than in Israel.” The Republican Jewish Coalition on Tuesday expressed “outrage” that the platform “strips recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel from the party’s official policy document.”

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) responded that President George W. Bush “signed waivers 16 times to avoid moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem,” showing that the current administration’s Jerusalem policy doesn’t represent a shift.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, speaking at the Western Wall this summer, affirmed Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital and vowed to move the U.S. embassy there. But despite Congress’s passage of a resolution in 1995 calling for the embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem, every U.S. president since that year has kept the embassy in Tel Aviv.

The 2012 Democratic platform also removed language from 2008 calling for continued sanctions against Hamas. Regarding the Iranian nuclear threat, the platform said Obama has “made clear that the window for diplomacy will not remain open indefinitely and that all options—including military force—remain on the table.” However, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey’s recent statement that he does not want to be “complicit” in a potential Israeli strike on Iran has fueled concern about the administration’s military support for Israel.

Washington Post commentator Jennifer Rubin wrote that the platform “is the most radically unsupportive statement of policy on Israel by any major party since the founding of the state of Israel.” NJDC President David A. Harris, offering a polar-opposite take, said the Obama administration “has the most pro-Israel record of any on record.”

“From record aid to Israel to unsurpassed supplemental missile defense to heightened military cooperation to an unprecedented perfect voting record at the United Nations to gathering a global coalition against Iran, President Barack Obama has tirelessly worked to strengthen the special partnership between the United States and Israel,” Harris said in a statement.

Additionally, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said at a session in Charlotte that Republicans have been doing “everything they can to lie and distort and mischaracterize [Obama’s] stellar record on Israel,” the Washington Examiner reported.

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